Saturday, June 4, 2016

Country #18: My siesta taste for the Andalusia region of España


The different sub-regions of Spain
I was in Spain for the past three weeks  - mainly hanging around in  the southern cities where the historic Andalusia region is. It is REALLY HARD to summarize such a fun stay with just a few words and it just doesn't feel like I have seen enough of this land of fiesta (or siesta) !

I spent most time at the coastal area of Marbella where the retired British people like to spend summer at. I also cycled to the rich men town of Puerto Banus which is just 6 km away, visited the old Ronda city and its the impressive Puente Nuevo bridge, went up the hill and walked around the beautiful whitewashed village at Ojén and hitchhiked our way back, navigated our way through the confusing road maps and drove to Seville (and made it back and one piece).

I also cooked proper dishes for the first time in my life and drove a car on the "wrong" side of the road. Spanish people, men and women, just looked SO STUNNING by the way, especially the policía......Awww.... don't get me started.

Here we go with my pictures: 

Ronda was pretty badass..
Seville: Plaza de Espana
Whitewashed village surrounded by mountains
A picture that I thought represents Marbella stay the best.
A Spanish wedding - at a church near the Marbella Old Town - and stunning women
Between Marbella beach and Puerto Banus. On a bicycle. 
Typical Ronda shot.

The food.
A full week of cold, grey and rain in Marbella welcomed me to Costa del Sol - a place said to rain an average of only 35 days a year. I was pretty fortunate to see 20% of the rain. The myth about "Wen brings cold everywhere she goes" has again been confirmed. And so the backup plan was to stay sheltered and make delicious food. 

I tried making different dishes and this was one of the food that I was most proud of making - the ultimate ABC chicken soup. It did not taste fantastic but it showed my potential to be a good cook. An average meal at a sit down restaurant at Marbella range between €6-15. Cooking is cheap. However, it would have been absurd if we hadn't tried the famous Tapas, Paella and Jamon Iberico. So some times we indulged ourselves in some typical Spanish but pricier food stuff.


The Siesta Hours.
There is another discovery I had about siesta hours - this can be a frustration confusion for one who just got to know about it. In short, siesta hours is a kind of nap time after midday lunch. Typically between 2-5pm if you read on the internet and think you are smart. But the reality is, there is no hard rules for when it will happen or how long it will happen. It's all up to the shop owner and their mood that day/week.  So the rule of thumb is not to assume shops will always be open. If you see something you need or you predict that you might need it the next moment, grab it without hesitation :)

€70 rental for a day excluding petrol and parking. 
The driving.
There are buses running between Marbella and major towns nearby. They are absolutely convenient and affordable. We used buses for our Ronda and Ojen trips but figured we would try driving and enjoy the freedom of stopping on our way to take pictures of the scenic mountains. After comparing prices , we ended up renting this Smart Car and set ourselves on the road on a bright Monday morning, to Seville. 

It was a good 4-5 hours' drive from Marbella to Seville - we stopped by couple times for photos and once for lunch at Coín. Road condition was good all the way, GPS was tremendous help although I had some difficulties pointing the right direction and missed a few turns. Parking wasn't a lot of trouble in Seville either. We parked the car just right next to the bullring some walking distance away from the cathedral. Just needed patience. 

On our way back we chose another route which brought us close to Cadiz, Jerez, Algeciras and Gibraltar. Some other cities that I wished we had time to explore. Total spent on the car including gas and tolls (yes there were couple tolls on our way back) was about €100. 


Goodbye Marbella beaches & Southern Spain.
The coastline of Marbella itself has got too much to offer - all different activities were happening. 
I said good bye to southern Spain and leaving the city with a full backpack of amazing memories. This picture of me summarizes how it feels like being in the south. 





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